How Many Donkeys: An Arabic Counting Tale

Book Summary: 

This Arabic counting book is also a noodlehead tale- the story of a foolish person. Jouha takes his 10 donkeys to the market to sell his dates. While on the way, he rides a donkey. Every time Jouha counts the donkeys while riding one, he forgets to count the one he sits on causing him to think he’s lost a donkey. Friendly travelers encourage him to count again showing that he does have 10 donkeys each time.

Margaret Read MacDonald and Nadia jameel Taibah
Carol Liddiment
Albert Whitman & Company
Guiding Question: 

We don’t know exactly where this story takes place, but it seems to be somewhere in Saudi Arabia. If this story gives you the only view into the lives of Arabic people, think about other things you'd like to know about them. Do the illustrations show modern Saudi Arabia or is this an ancient story? Do people still ride donkeys and sell good in markets? Are the things you know about Saudis based on facts from reliable sources, on a lot of information or little, through knowledge of someone who is Arabic, or some other source?


Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85): 

Honesty  - Some people in the United States don’t know much about Arabic people but have opinions of them based on very little information or contact. What can you find out about the people of Saudi Arabia and how they live? 

Empathy - How would you feel if people formed an opinion of you without knowing you personally?

Advocacy - Ask a person who is Arabic or who has an Arabic heritage to come to your classroom to talk about their way of life. If you don’t know anyone who is Arabic or of Arabic heritage, many universities have student organizations that represent many races, cultures, and nationalities. You will likely find a person or group to talk with you and your class through a university. The link below can serve as an introduction in the Arab cultures.

Action - Create a project to help your classmates and others better understand the people of Saudi Arabia and their diversity. How can you present this information to others?